Here’s some helpful pointers from four-star international event rider, Kate Honey (pictured), about how you can school your horse effectively even if you don’t have access to an all-weather arena
During the winter, not having an arena can seem like a daunting prospect in terms of schooling work. However, with a bit of time and imagination you can create lots of different options which in turn will make your horse use to a variety of situations.
1. Road work — if you horse is safe to hack out on the roads, you can look to incorporate some simple schooling exercises into this once they are warmed up. Such as doing lengthening and shortening in your walk and trot work. This can work especially well if you have a good hill to really engage the hind quarters. However, always remember to be wary of your surroundings and to respect other road users.
2. Hacking — in Lambourn we are lucky to have some great off-road hacking and with all the horses I will practice movements like transitions, leg yield, shoulder-in and centre lines as well as giving them some downtime to relax. We find it really beneficial to give the horses variety in their schooling work, so when we get to an event they have learnt to focus in all situations, not just in the arena. This can also link to your jumping. If on your hacking routes there are little logs or even ditches it can really benefit some horses (perhaps if they have gone a bit behind the leg) to do something different, if the ground permits.
3. Local gallops — if there are any local gallops or canter tracks nearby, remember these don’t have to be used just for fast work. They can be a great alternative good ground option to school your horse on, as long as they are available and your horse will settle.
4. Clinic and lessons — use not having an arena as an excuse to book on for some clinics or lessons. This will be good to get your horse out and about to different places and it is always beneficial to have another pair of eyes on the ground.
5. Weather permitting — as soon as the weather and ground permits, we put up a make-shift arena in a paddock. It is essential for our eventers to get some practice schooling on grass and to work in an area without arena sides.
Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these competitions available to enter where you can put this advice into practice…
Eventers’ combined training
Date: 8 December
Venue: Kings Sedgemoor Equestrian Centre, near Bridgwater
Details: “This event has the option of competitors taking part in pure dressage or combined training. Dressage tests range from BE90 to BE110 with jumping up to 1m, with bigger heights available by request.”
Date: 8 December
Venue: Forest Edge Arena, Swaffham
Details: “This unaffiliated competition has classes from clear round and 60cm to 1.05m.”
British Dressage Quest and unaffiliated dressage
Date: 9 December
Venue: Inchcoonans Competition & Livery Yard, Errol
Details: “This competition has classes from intro to novice with My Quest, Team Quest and unaffiliated options.”
Date: 9 December
Venue: Mullacott Event Centre, Ilfracombe
Details: “This event features a course of showjumps in the indoor arena followed by a cross-country course in the outdoor arena which has an optimum time. Heights range from 60cm to 80cm.”
Date: 13 December
Venue: Wix Equestrian Centre, Manningtree
Details: “This competition has a wide range of classes from intro up to advanced medium and freestyle dressage to music.”
Winter woollies showing
Date: 15 December
Venue: Oaklands College, St Albans
Details: “All classes, which include a range of in-hand and ridden options, will be run indoors on a surface. This is a qualifier for GB Rider 2019 championships and Bitless Showing UK championships. All competitors who are first or second in their class qualify for the championship on the day.”
Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings